3 minute read 27 May 2019
Andrew Forrest

How business can be a powerful force for good


EY Americas

Multidisciplinary professional services organization

3 minute read 27 May 2019

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Philanthropy forms a lasting legacy for Andrew Forrest, Chairman of Minderoo Foundation and recipient of the inaugural EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Alumni Social Impact Award.

Successful corporations are increasingly looking beyond their balance sheets to invest in their communities, and nowhere is that more evident than among the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Award alumni community. To recognize the tremendous impact made by these award winners from around the world, the Entrepreneur Of The Year program established the Alumni Social Impact Award in 2018. Its inaugural recipient was Andrew Forrest, Chairman of Minderoo Foundation.

“Over many years, Andrew has demonstrated a genuine commitment to alleviating the plight of millions of the world’s most vulnerable people,” said Bryan Pearce, EY Global Leader — Entrepreneurship. “Through his philanthropic works, Andrew is leaving a lasting and exceptional legacy thanks to his entrepreneurial and innovative spirit.”

Forrest and his wife, Nicola, founded the Minderoo Foundation in 2001. Since then it has supported more than 250 initiatives in Australia and internationally including ending modern slavery and indigenous disadvantage, eliminating cancer, responding to disasters, advancing cutting-edge research, studying and implementing early childhood development practices in communities, and supporting the environment and the arts.

The impact of ethical businesses

“Business, when ethical, is the most powerful force for good in the world,” Forrest said upon accepting the award during the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Hall of Fame ceremony in Monaco. He shared that Minderoo’s Eliminate Cancer Initiative recently launched the Universal Cancer Databank, a 100% philanthropic, 100% global and 100% anonymized central repository where patients can upload their data to catalyze unprecedented information sharing between cancer scientists and researchers on a free and equal basis to accelerate cures.

“I want to share with you this burning impatience to change the world with the little time we have to do it,” Forrest said. “It is important each of us does everything we can to improve our communities — whether it is through giving time, energy or capital. Individually, we can all be change agents, and together we can make a lasting difference.”

Never be concerned by failure — it’s the start of success.


A legacy of philanthropy

Forrest is globally renowned for founding and building Fortescue Metals Group within one of the most protected and exclusive industries in the world. In just 15 years, he has led the company — first as CEO and now as Chairman — to become the fourth-largest iron ore miner in the world. The company invested more than US$22b in the Australian resources sector and through rapid repayment of corporate debt, Forrest is still the major shareholder.

In 2017, the Forrests donated A$400m of their personal wealth — the largest-ever donation by a living Australian. The significant philanthropic donation, unveiled in Parliament House by the Australian Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull, is consistent with the Forrests’ obligations to The Giving Pledge, where they pledged to give away their personal wealth to philanthropic causes in their lifetime. The Forrests were the first Australian signatories to this global pledge.

“Entrepreneurship and philanthropy are incredibly compatible,” Forrest said. “Both require determination, innovation and a desire to create lasting and positive change.”

How to change the world

Forrest emphasized these themes throughout his time at the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2018 Forum. During the opening session, he noted that the Eliminate Cancer Initiative will contribute to “eliminating the biggest bully of human suffering” through the sharing of data.

“The lack of collaboration in the global research industry is a big deal. Eliminate Cancer will give organizations collaboration metrics to bring cancer to a close in years to come,” Forrest said. He encouraged Forum attendees to look at how their businesses could help change the world.

“Take it into your hearts and be proud you’re driving change. If you fail, you’ll learn from it,” he said. “Never be concerned by failure — it’s the start of success. Wisdom comes through tough experiences.”

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Andrew Forrest, Chairman of Minderoo Foundation, received the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Alumni Social Impact Award in 2018 for his commitment to alleviating the plight of millions of the world’s most vulnerable people.